Lethbridge College is helping develop a different kind of agriculture for use both here and in other parts of the world. It’s called aquaponics. Plants produced by aquaponics grow out of water instead of soil. The nutrients they need don’t come from fertilizer but from the waste that fish product. Plants filter necessary nutrients from the water returning fresh water that the Grass Carp fish need to survive.
Director of Applied Research, Lorne MacGregor said, “There’s tremendous potential in aquaponics. It’s a great way to grow produce and fish.”
To aid its efforts to help develop an aquaponics industry here, Lethbridge College recently received a two year 200,000 dollar Innovation Enhancement Grant.
“That’s being used to support the industry, help the industry grow,” said MacGregor. “Help address any policy issues, technical issues that commercial aquaponic producers are encountering and help encourage people who may be considering commercial aquaponics.”
Lethbridge College is also helping to develop aquaponics internationally. A proposal before the International Development Research Centre, in collaboration with Universities in Botswana and Cairo would help develop aquaponic farming in rural Africa. The systems would help provide safe and secure food in that part of the world.
MacGregor said, “They would probably be sized to feed five to six families. One family would grow their food and probably have a little income from selling it. The vision is that it may help empower women and children in some of the societies that have less economic opportunities.”
Working with aquaponic systems also benefits students at Lethbridge College. Developing systems that work efficiently in Africa teaches them both the technical aspects of aquaponic production and humanitarian matters that help save lives.